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Group organizing weekend event predicts a 'wave' of demonstrators

Civil rights groups are asking Gov. Larry Hogan to take action following the death of Freddie Gray..

A group organizing a weekend demonstration in Baltimore regarding the death of Freddie Gray said they expect a "wave will roll downtown to City Hall" during the Saturday event.

At a press conference Friday at the Western District police station, Malik Z. Shabazz, an attorney with the Washington D.C.-based Black Lawyers for Justice, called for a "shutdown" of the city if officers involved in Gray's arrest are not charged.

Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 in the city and died a week later after suffering spinal cord injuries while in police custody. Police have opened an investigation into his case, and the U.S. Department of Justice has also launched an investigation.

"We are here because of Freddie Gray. We are here because there have been no arrests made," Shabazz said.

He expressed frustration that city officials have not been able to provide answers regarding how Gray was injured. He called for the arrest of officers involved, a completed investigation and "end of police brutality and racial profiling in Baltimore."

"All we see is stone-walling," he said.

Shabazz said residents will rally at the Western District and also near where Gray was arrested at 3 p.m. From there, the crowd will march down North Avenue to City Hall a rally scheduled for 5 p.m.

"This tide, this wave will roll downtown to City Hall," where the group has permits for a sound system and stage, he said."There will be some thousands in the streets this Saturday demanding justice. We are in solidarity with them."

"It cannot be business as usual on Saturday in Baltimore, Maryland," he said. "Baltimore cannot go along as usual on Saturday. Business has to be changed. Routine has to be changed."

Pastor Ted Sutton, who identified himself a co-sponsor of Saturday's demonstration and a youth minister with the Ministers of Defense and the Maryland Church of God and Christ, said organizers expect crowds from out of town.

The press conference regarding Saturday's march was one of several held in the city Friday.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake met Friday afternoon at City Hall with faith-based leaders from across Baltimore City to discuss community response following the death of Freddie Gray and "support for peaceful demonstrations."

Civil rights groups were scheduled to meet Friday in Baltimore to ask Gov. Larry Hogan to respond to concerns over police and community relations following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old who died after being inured in police custody.

The Maryland Coalition for Justice and Equality, which includes representative from ACLU of Maryland and local branches of the NAACP, want Hogan to "use his executive powers to address a number of systemic and structural matters concerning police-community relations and structural community development needs," according to a statement.

The coalition scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. at the Douglas Memorial Community Church, 1325 Madison Avenue in Baltimore.

The coalition also includes the Maryland State Conference and Baltimore City Branch NAACP, CASA de Maryland, Community Churches for Community Development, Greater Baltimore Urban League, Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, National Action Network Maryland Chapter, Rainbow PUSH Coalition and faith leaders, the statement said.

And ihe Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore held a press conference in the morning at Friendship Baptist Church where the head of the group, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., called for the resignation of city Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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